The death toll from a massive earthquake in Morocco has surpassed 2,000, accompanied by a nearly equal number of individuals sustaining injuries.
The interior ministry reports over 1,400 individuals have sustained grave injuries, with the most severe casualties being reported in areas slightly south of Marrakesh.
King Mohammed VI initiated a three-day period of national grieving and arranged shelter, provisions, and additional aid for survivors. Numerous individuals are spending a second night out in the open.
The magnitude 6.8 quake struck Marrakesh and several towns on Friday evening. In distant mountainous regions, whole villages are said to have been demolished.
The epicenter was situated in the High Atlas Mountains, 71km (44 miles) southwest of Marrakesh – a city renowned for its global heritage recognition and a favorite destination for tourists.
However, the tremors were also perceived in the capital Rabat, roughly 350km distant, and in cities like Casablanca, Agadir, and Essaouira.
The interior ministry reports that Al Haouz region records the most significant number of fatalities, succeeded by Taroudant region.
Marrakesh observes substantially fewer deaths, although the UNESCO-recognized ancient town has encountered significant destruction.
Experts assume that numerous basic mud brick, stone, and timber residences in mountain communities have crumbled, yet the extent of the ruin in secluded areas will necessitate a while to evaluate.
Upon reaching one of these villages, BBC reporter Nick Beake notes, a senior woman was sobbing as 18 bodies had been retrieved in that particular location.
Numerous individuals are setting up temporary shelter at that site for the night, he remarks, due to their apprehension of further tremors. They convey a critical scarcity of nourishment and hydration.
Yet, reaching such locales is challenging, with mountain pathways cluttered with stones and assorted wreckage, complicating the entrance for rescue crews.
Flags will assume a half-raised position on all governmental structures in the nation over the upcoming three days, the monarchial residence announced in a declaration.
The monarch instructed the military to collaborate with search squads, and Moroccan citizens are contributing blood to support the nationwide initiative to assist the affected individuals.
This incident marked Morocco’s most tragic earthquake since Agadir underwent destruction by a 6.7-magnitude seismic activity in 1960, causing over 12,000 fatalities.
The earthquake on Friday was also recorded as the strongest to influence Morocco in over a hundred years.
The UN has declared its preparedness to cooperate with the Moroccan government in their relief operations – with similar commitments being voiced by multiple nations including Spain, France, and Israel.
Neighboring Algeria, despite having strained ties with Morocco in the preceding years, is presently permitting its airspace to facilitate humanitarian flights to Morocco.
Several families were trapped when the quake occurred during nighttime.
Montasir Itri, a resident of the mountain community of Asni, proximate to the epicenter, conveyed to Reuters: “Our neighbours are under the rubble and people are working hard to rescue them using available means in the village.”
Houda Outassaf experienced the earthquake while roaming around Jemaa el-Fna Square in Marrakesh when he noticed the ground start to shake.
“I have at least 10 members of my family who died… I can hardly believe it, as I was with them no more than two days ago,” he shared with the AFP news agency.
A mosque tower fell in Jemaa el-Fna Square and numerous slender lanes in the city’s ancient Medina were strewn with debris.